Thursday, October 31, 2013

Who isn't?

… Just who is meddling with the Philadelphia Inquirer? (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Not your usual review …

… Andrew O’Hagan reviews ‘Norman Mailer’ by J. Michael Lennon — LRB 7 November 2013. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Pretty spectacular …

… Best Autumn Photographs from the Last Ten Years of Photo Contests | Travel | Smithsonian Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I really like the moose.

Take that, varlets …

… Britney Spears' music used by British navy to scare off Somali pirates | Music | theguardian.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A weary bard …

… A Close, Intimate Look at Walt Whitman | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowen.)

The envelope, please …

… Winning Poems for 2013 October : IBPC.

The Judge's Page.

(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Just your ordinary sociopath …

 Book Club: Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley — Novel Readings - Notes on Literature and Criticism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to make your head spin …

… William Peter Blatty, writer of ‘The Exorcist,’ slips back into the light for its 40th anniversary - The Washington Post.

Quotidien rituals …

… Rise and shine: the daily routines of history's most creative minds | Science | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Reading habits …

… What 20 years of best sellers say about what we read.

Pains and Troubles and Creation ...


John Eliot Gardiner on J.S. Bach:
So there's a sense that he's always the outsider, that he's up against something, that he's incorrigible to some extent. And he carries on right until the bitter end fighting battles which really he didn't need to, maybe. And that is one side of his personality. And maybe it was a creative side because it — in his embattled state — fired him up to write the music that he did. On the other hand, there's a totally different side to him — the convivial family man who welcomed all visiting musicians and who took infinite pains to look after the musical education and the career steps of his children. So there is a fault line running right through his personality, I feel.
-- From NPR's interview with Gardiner for his new book, BACH: Music in the Castle of Heaven

A thought for today …


Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?
—John Keats, born on this date in 1795

RIP …

… Frank Wess, January 4, 1922 – October 30, 2013. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unless you do …

… You Don’t Want To Be A Writer | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Arguing It Out ...

Jonathan Rauch and the reissue of Kindly Inquisitions

Or, as we say in the patent business, Switzerland had 500 years of peace -- resulting in the cuckoo clock.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Saul Bellow


Saul Bellow was first and foremost a novelist. By which I mean: he told stories. By which I mean: he was interested in characters, and their development, and their travails, and their anguish. And he wrote about these things over the course of hundreds of pages.

Henderson the Rain King is no exception: this is a novel. There's no doubt about it. It's not poetry (though it is poetic). And it's not modernist (though it does tackle modern topics). This is a book in search of "reality"; this is a novel in search of one man's identity. Like Herzog, it's preoccupied by what drives us toward insecurity, and what ultimately liberates us from the same. 

I found Henderson to be an effective, if at times self-indulgent, book: the story works, and the characters attain some semblance of enlightenment. Maybe there's too much about the "power of love" toward the end of the book. But that's because reality for Henderson is built on the idea of compassion, of becoming your true self. 

There's lots to like here when it comes to Bellow's treatment of that distinction - between becoming and being. Making the transition from the former to the latter is what Henderson is after: it's why he travels to Africa after all. And by the end of the book, he, like the reader, has recognized that suffering and sacrifice can lead to more than sorrow alone. They can lead, instead, to a renewed desire: an unabashed desire to live.

Best suited for All Hallows' Eve …

… The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton — The Barnes & Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

FYI …

… AbeBooks: Book Collecting Guide — Best Books About Book Collecting.

Is there a difference …

… Bibliophile or Bibliomaniac? | Columnists | RIA Novosti.

In other news …

… � [UPDATED] Philadelphia Newspaper Guild: What has been going on at the Inquirer is ‘a disgrace’ JIMROMENESKO.COM. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Not anymore …

… The TLS blog: Not the hundred best novels? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Still, some sound choices.

Be very scared …

… On Writer’s Terror | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Comparison and contrast …

… Overrated: Richard Dawkins | Standpoint.

… Underrated: C.S. Lewis.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP …

… Arthur C. Danto, philosopher and art critic, has died, aged 89 — The Art Newspaper. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Blogging today …

I have to be out and about again today, so blogging will resume upon my return.

Stirring things up …

… Joyce Carol Oates' Robert Frost Story in Harper's Sparks Debate | New Republic.

See also Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Frost, and Robert Lowell.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fun and games …

 Inky Fires Brian Tierney | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog.

Together at last …

… Cowboys and Calvinists | Religion and Other Curiosities. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the choices are …

… Philosopher's Annual. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Overview …

… The Snowden Leaks and the Public by Alan Rusbridger | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

A thought for today …


A poem is never finished, only abandoned.
— Paul Valery, born on this date in 1871

Decisions ... and Life


A few years ago, I stared in terror at what my life might become, at what I thought were the likely consequences of a decision from hell that I had to make, either way, either avenue, promising me and those I love nothing but pain, and hurt, and sorrow. 

And now years later, having decided, yesterday was my birthday, and I received an  outpouring of messages, of love, from my family and so many friends that I could never have imagined back then, when I lay shivering in bed, stricken with what I thought were the horrendous consequences of my choice.

So to be sentimental and perhaps jejune, but also to try approach simplicity, becoming a child, which I have been told is necessary for my salvation, let me give you what I have done, how I have changed, and how I have learned to live; all of which has made my decision to transition from a man with a troubled life, shivering in his bed, hiding from the world, to a woman with overflowing love from and for her family and friends, who reaches out:

trust and love, throw away that crap in your mind – and if you believe, pray, pray, pray.

Suffer little children and forbid them not ...

Boy wanders in stage with Pope; hangs out for awhile:







More on Spufford ...

An interview in the NYT:

Q. Did the biggest inspiration to write this book come from the outspoken atheism of writers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens?
A. Not in the sense that I thought they made a case that deserved arguing with directly. “The God Delusion,” “God Is Not Great,” etc., are (as they say) not even wrong.

Fascinating and fraught...

The desire for peace...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Too close for comfort …

… Badger, Mole, and Marianne Moore by Helen Vendler | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There were moments when Moore could have escaped, but she turned down such opportunities as came her way. She was never known to fall in love, have an affair, or contemplate marriage. Her mother, by playing the orphan child, by turning Marianne into a male (“he”), and by sleeping with her, had in effect made Marianne the man of the house. And the hovering protectiveness of Warner and Marianne confirmed this folie à trois.

Inside story …

… Basic Christianity for WEIRDoes | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I just started reading Spufford's book. It seems quite intriguing.

Totally gratuitous post of the day...

Luckily for the rest of us …

… Only the literary elite can afford not to tweet - SFGate. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Plantinga v. Dennett

2:38 pm - Plantinga argues that contemporary evolutionary theory isn't incompatible with theistic belief. But instead is in conflict with naturalism. He also thinks that theistic religion could be rational even if science conflicted with it (this last is particularly controversial claim, to my mind).
2:39 pm - The conflict is between naturalism and science. Dennett is smirking under his grand beard...
3:24 pm - You can see where Plantinga is going in his arguments, which is a virtue. With Dennett, he is building up to a shock. This is also cool. I like both.
3:26 pm - A failure of imagination is not an insight into reality, a point Dennett makes against philosophers all the time.

3:26 pm - Here comes [Dennett's] punch line - the theistic hypothesis can't be refuted...

Be On Guard ...

Written primarily for health professionals, True or False Possession is nonetheless of interest to any educated Catholic, in that it recounts from a Catholic viewpoint genuine suspected demonic possession and helps the layman, priest, psychiatrist and even family members to distinguish the real thing from mental illness and fakery.

But of course …

… Podcast: The Show Must Go On | Virtual Memories.

They got rhythm …

… Rhythmic Circus at Mitchell Auditorium on 11/01/2013 | Duluth Events Calendar. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wandering with a sense of direction …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `The World is Not Like Ourselves in All Respects'.

Chronicle of dissatisfaction …

… Trapped Inside the Novel by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My problem with the grand traditional novel—or rather traditional narrative in general, short stories included—is the vision of character, the constant reinforcement of a fictional selfhood that accumulates meaning through suffering and the overcoming of suffering. At once a palace built of words and a trajectory propelled by syntax, the self connects effortlessly with the past and launches bravely into the future. Challenged, perhaps thwarted by circumstance, it nevertheless survives, with its harvest of bittersweet consolation, and newly acquired knowledge.

Resurrected fragment …

… Patrick White: Within a Budding Grove by J. M. Coetzee | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A tradition of reciprocity...

A visit with Dame Judi …

… Bryan Appleyard — Judi Dench: The Natural. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



She goes to two local meeting houses and found “a lovely one” in Cornwall. I check with her that this is not simply a therapeutic technique. No, she insists, it is real Christian faith.

Yes!

FYI …

… Get Ready for Another Battle Over Copyright Extensions - Hit & Run : Reason.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …


There is no better way of exercising the imagination than the study of law. No poet ever interpreted nature as freely as a lawyer interprets the truth.
—Jean Giraudoux, born on this date in 1882

Monday, October 28, 2013

… Detectives Beyond Borders: Strange Loyalties — William McIlvanney in words and a picture.

Send in the clowns …

… don't bother; they're here: Inky Owners Square Off Over Bringing Back Brian Tierney | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog.

Mostly odd choices …

… The Neglected Books Page � The New Republic (1934). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The short of it …

… Vol. 1 Brooklyn | Poetry in Motion: World Series Haiku. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Balancing act …

… On Not Staring Too Long Into The Abyss | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mr. Waugh blurbs, sort of …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Quite Unsuitable to a Lady's Reading'.

Fictional science …

… Book of Lamentations – The New Inquiry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It’s … not exactly a conventional novel. Its full title is an unwieldy mouthful: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. The author (or authors) writes under the ungainly nom de plume of The American Psychiatric Association – although a list of enjoyably silly pseudonyms is provided inside (including Maritza Rubio-Stipec, Dan Blazer, and the superbly alliterative Susan Swedo). The thing itself is on the cumbersome side. Over two inches thick and with a thousand pages, it’s unlikely to find its way to many beaches. Not that this should deter anyone; within is a brilliantly realized satire, at turns luridly absurd, chillingly perceptive, and profoundly disturbing.

One man's canon …

… Jonathan Schwartz Selects His Favorites from the American Songbook : The New Yorker.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Apologia …

… I think there’s some semantic game-playing in how... - more than 95 theses.

Journalist would do well to practice phenomenology. If one accurately and precisely describes one's experience of something, the subjective dimension will become without being overbearing.

Master in rehearsal …

… Ellington At Work. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Opening Friday …

… The Garden.

Q&A …

… Speakeasy: Guillermo del Toro on Bringing Horror Classics Back - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"Frankenstein" is perhaps the first time in which the literature of the fantastic uses science to bridge the uncanny and the supernatural through the lens of the possible, of the scientific. That's the big chasm—the big break in the way we see the fantastic comes after the Age of Reason. Once the Age of Reason happens, fables, folklore and the fantastic start to be considered childish pursuits. Before that, they have equal weight. It's really revealing that then there's a strong resurgence of the fantastic with the Romantic movement. "Frankenstein" straddles the idea of science and the idea of the fantastic in a way that is incredibly modern.

Geniuseses ...

A constellation of stars, a world of fashions, an ebb and flow of trends, a new group of MacArthur fellows. No one doubts their merits, but surely not so many geniuses are created in a year, and surely not so many of them reside in the United States. In a world without a genuine appreciation of genius, this is what we get—excellence by committee and blind peer review. And with it, a nagging sense of nostalgia for a world that could stand to wonder and marvel a little more.

My latest column …

… When Falls the Coliseum � Watching the passing scene.

Whatever happened to Douglas Hofstader?

In the years after the release of GEB, Hofstadter and AI went their separate ways. Today, if you were to pull AI: A Modern Approach off the shelf, you wouldn’t find Hofstadter’s name—not in more than 1,000 pages. Colleagues talk about him in the past tense. New fans of GEB, seeing when it was published, are surprised to find out its author is still alive.
Of course in Hofstadter’s telling, the story goes like this: when everybody else in AI started building products, he and his team, as his friend, the philosopher Daniel Dennett, wrote, “patiently, systematically, brilliantly,” way out of the light of day, chipped away at the real problem. “Very few people are interested in how human intelligence works,” Hofstadter says. “That’s what we’re interested in—what is thinking?—and we don’t lose track of that question.”

For sale …

… 13 Highland St., Medway, MA 02053 (MLS# 71589947) - Medway MA Real Estate - NewEnglandMoves.com.

My stepdaughter Gwen and her husband Chris live there (Emma and Sophie are on their own now).

How others feel …

… Acquiring Empathy through the Essay | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Take note …

The American Scholar: The Best Advice for Biographers - Witold Rybczynski. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …


There are no poetic ideas; only poetic utterances.
— Evelyn Waugh, born on this date in 1903

Stopping in the fast lane …

… Platt du Jour: Two Poets, One Chevelle. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Moving on...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

And the winners are …

… 2013 September : IBPC Winning Poems for September 2013.

The Judge's Page.

Separation …

… First Known When Lost: Divisions And Distances.

FYI …

… Readux Books launches October 24th and presents their first book series | BERLIN LOVES YOU.

Roundup …

… Philosophy, lit, etc.: Essays, aphorisms, facts.

Medieval all around …

… Quid plura? | “…and in a yellow taxi turn to me and smile…”

Partly sunny …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: Lyric for a Lazy Sunday Afternoon: Richard Brautigan.

Couldn't agree more …

…  The Boring Dead.

Independent Southerner …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Maximum Ground in Minimum Space'.

RIP …

… Lou Reed, Velvet Underground Leader and Rock Pioneer, Dead at 71 | Music News | Rolling Stone.

Vintage Q&A …

… Longform Reprints: Playboy Interview: Vladimir Nabokov by Alvin Toffler. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Travelin' man …

… ‘Patrick Leigh Fermor’ celebrates author of one of greatest travel books ever written - The Washington Post. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Is Anyone(thing) Out There?

What's the most important thing that we as a now-global society could do? The updated equivalent of building the Library of Alexandria or patronizing the Renaissance?
To Lee Billings, author of the new book Five Billion Years of Solitude, the answer seems to be "discover that there's life on another planet." And despite the myriad of details he describes that complicate the search, it appears that we are just on the cusp of being able to make such a discovery.

It's like Dr. Johnson's Dictionary ... but for Jews


One page of a spectacular illustrated volume of the Mishneh Torah, a Jewish-law codex, is now on view in a modest special exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The book—created in Northern Italy in the 1450s and jointly acquired this year by the Met and the Israel Museum, where it had been on loan—is far more than a work of Judaic scholarly interest. It's a rich visual feast, though we get only a delightful first course in the Met display. But even that single serving deserves serious attention.

The 14-section text of the Mishneh Torah was the masterwork of Moses ben Maimon (1135-1204) [and] it is with the Mishneh Torah that Maimonides had his most lasting influence.

Inquirer reviews …

… Biographer finds some dissonance in Ellington's life.



Don't be taken in …

… Upcoming PBS show on ‘War of Worlds’ may reinforce media myth — in cheesy fashion | Media Myth Alert.

In overwhelming numbers, listeners to the program recognized it for what it was: An imaginative and entertaining show that aired on CBS Radio in its usual Sunday evening time slot.

A thought for today …


The pleasure of one's effect on other people still exists in age — what's called making a hit. But the hit is much rarer and made of different stuff.
— Enid Bagnold, born on this date in 1889

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Très suave …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Cool And Classy: 'If I Had 24 Hours To Live, I'd Make A Dry Martini,' Says Sir Roger Moore.

He and share a birth date. Of course he's cool.

Strangely unmoving...

...Now we are five

This is his sister's suicide he is talking about. How can he be so glib and distant? So, she was a difficult woman. But she was your sister, for God's sake. It's all about him and his feelings and nothing about her, the person who died.

John Williams

I read Stoner a few years ago and agree with almost everything in this most recent attempt to resurrect Williams and his reputation. (It's true that Williams shares something with James Salter, though A Sport and a Pastime is a better book in the end than Stoner. I've often thought of Williams as being a lesser William Maxwell, whose So Long, See You Tomorrow is, incidentally, one devastating book.)

Hmmm ...

Librarian Logic: I Hate Censorship So I Censored You on Facebook

Commenting Psychology ...

As the psychologists Marco Yzer and Brian Southwell put it, “new communication technologies do not fundamentally alter the theoretical bounds of human interaction; such interaction continues to be governed by basic human tendencies."

A messy life and death …

… The Book Haven | Cynthia Haven's blog for the written word.

Who knew?

Michelle Orange is the New Black | Bookdwarf.

The bottom of October …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Russet Descending to Earth-Color'.

Oddly, though I was also born in October, and like the month well enough, I am a summer person through and through.

Minority report …

… AttackingtheDemi-Puppets: Munro Doctrine.

Strange and entrancing …

 Book Review: 'Holding On Upside Down' by Linda Leavell - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Comparison and contrast …

… Poems on war: Seamus Heaney was inspired by Edward Thomas | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Strange harvesters …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Beekeepers and the Birdnester (Breughel).

Christopher Guerin will be reading tonight. So if you're anywhere near Fort Wayne, try to make it.

Willful misrepresentation …

… Keith Burgess-Jackson: Political Philosophy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

The pleasure with which we walk down the trail that a system opens up for us in the woods makes us forget that on each side the forest remains intact.
— Don Colacho

No way...

Movie panorama...

Authorship as impertinence...

Friday, October 25, 2013

They're so cute …

… Hooked on Penguins � The Dabbler.

The good ghost …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `See the World More Clearly Than Before'.

Beat Movie

Kill Your Darlings is a clever, knowing film about the early exploits of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition

The newly published DSM-5 is a classic dsytopian novel...

Settled narrative and it's discontents …

… Wolff: JFK and 50 years of conspiracy.

FYI …

… The Washington Post eBooks.

Here's an excerpt: For John and Jackie Kennedy, the death of a son may have brought them closer.

God and Pilates …

… T.M. Luhrmann Dumbs Religion Down | New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 Prayer without a plausible metaphysics is just me. In such circumstances, the cosmological picture is a cosmological fantasy; and fantasy provides pleasure, not certainty. It trivializes an attempt to change the world, which prayer is, when it suffices with the good feelings that are generated by the attempt. The question of delusion hangs over all good feelings. And so I have always sided with the cautionary observation of the rabbi in the Talmud who wryly warned that “whoever protracts and overly ponders his prayer will arrive at an aching heart

But wasn't he always there?

… They're Taking Bach to the Future - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This coming Monday …

… Proust, Love and Jealousy- Events - The Greene Space - The Greene Space.

Mark thy calendar …

… Programs - Triple Canopy.

Redesign …

… Soho Press.

Taxonomy …

… Edward Feser: Some varieties of bullsh*t. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered …

… The Case for Hate Speech - Jonathan Rauch - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The restless process of trial and error does not allow human knowledge to be complete or perfect, but it does allow for steady improvement. If a society is open to robust critical debate, you can look at a tape of its moral and intellectual development over time and know which way it is running: usually toward less social violence, more social participation, and a wider circle of dignity and toleration. And if you see a society that is stuck and not making that kind of progress, you can guess that its intellectual system is not very liberal.

Near misses …

… 9 Beloved Books That Almost Never Saw The Light Of Day. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Feds confiscate investigative reporter’s confidential files during raid | The Daily Caller

… Feds confiscate investigative reporter’s confidential files during raid | The Daily Caller.

The work endures …

… Remembering John Berryman | mndaily.com - The Minnesota Daily. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

Every time government attempts to handle our affairs, it costs more and the results are worse than if we had handled them ourselves.
— Benjamin Constant, born on this date in 1767

What is...

Cowboy syndrome...

...Alex Miller: 'These characters have been me' – interview
He grew up working class and where he came from, “you couldn’t do anything right. You were channelled into wrongdoing, wrongsaying, wrongfooting.” The “south London mob were only portrayed as crooks and idiots” and, tellingly, “there weren’t books about me”. So Miller started to write them. Sidetracked at first by the theatre – his debut play was snatched up by the Melbourne Theatre Company – Miller’s first novel was not published until he was 50.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Look and listen …

The comedy of sadness …

… What Miniver Cheevy Means | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Stylish …

… Haute Couture: The Most Fashionable Books on AbeBooks.

Shrinkage …

… The Decline of Wikipedia: Even As More People Than Ever Rely on It, Fewer People Create It | MIT Technology Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



The main source of those problems is not mysterious. The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage.

This gun for hire …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Review Of 'I Am Soldier Of Fortune: Dancing With Devils'.

First thought, second thought …

Revision and Instinct | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

It was a dark and stormy night....

Granta's new series on first sentences

Books on an iPad

Following Up with an App called Oyster - "Netflix for ebooks"

(We wrote about Oyster's initial release, for phones only,  here.)

Appreciation …

 ELMORE LEONARD BLUES :: Oxford American - The Southern Magazine of Good Writing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Instantly, here was race, implied violence, and the abject debunking of the two, all unspooled in a startlingly familiar dialect that was somehow hardly written in dialect. How absurd that this was the first scene of the novel. It was one of the most hilariously accurate depictions of the contemporary South I’d ever encountered, and from the pages of an airport crime novel written by an old white man from Detroit.

Good question …

… A Don’s Life: Do computers belong in museum galleries?

I happen to hate the audio stuff they offer you in art museums. There's a reason it's called visual art. Try looking at it. On your own. It won't bite.

Check them out …

… The Wooden Spoon: Machado Translations in the Buenos Aires Review.

Linguistic protectionist …

… Michel Serres calls for a strike – against the English language | The Book Haven.

A time of life …

… First Known When Lost: "I Am Your Old Intentions She Said And All Your Old Intentions Are Over".

A composer who writes …

… The Diary Review: Self-exposing massacre.

Tough guys ain't called Pearl …

 Dabbler Heroes – Zane Grey — The Dabbler.

The Snob of Concord …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `We Should Wish to Hug Him'.

Grounds for faith …

… Contemporary Christian Philosophy: A Primer | Bleeding Heart Libertarians. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Vagrant reality …

… 'The Barber': A Story Flannery O'Connor Never Published - Jennie Rothenberg Gritz - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not encouraging …

… Undernews: Obamacare update. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The learning curve (again) …

… 10 Things I Learned Reading Brad Stone’s — The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The learning curve

… The Millions : The 10 Things I Learned From Gay Talese That Will Get Me a Job at The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The wish to write for the Times strikes me as a tad quaint.

Inverse sentimentality …

… Nigeness: Horrors. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

The poem has a social effect of some kind whether or not the poet wills it to have. It has a kenetic force, it sets in motion...elements in the reader that would otherwise remain stagnant.
— Denise Levertov, born on this date in 1923

Continued fanaticism...

Psst...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's still Wednesday …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: Olivier Schopfer & Anitha Varma: Wednesday Haiku, #138.

In this corner …

… In The Battle Over The Inky, It's Nancy Vs. Lexie | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog. (Hat tip, Paul    Davis.)

Indeed …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Happy Birthday To Author Michael Crichton.

Michael Crichton sent me nice email shortly before I retired and not long before his death.

I knew they'd get it right!!

New, Improved Obamacare Program Released On 35 Floppy Disks

Literary Villains - A Quiz!

How well do you remember some of the nastiest/scariest/most famous villains in literary history?

I promise you can make it as an artist!

I was driving through upstate Pennsylvania recently -- coal country, with guns and religion  -- and came across a billboard for a church that featured a modern day Jesus teaching a Sunday School class.  I couldn't stop in time to get a picture, but, just the other day and as if by divine guidance, I came across this website, featuring what it called "awkward Jesus" pictures...and this one:



It's called "The Introduction” by Nathan Green and is available for $1,495.00 in a limited edition canvas giclee here, which describes it as "a stunning portrayal of that first moment of man's special blessing from God. A brand new world sparkles and vibrates with color and movement as Adam and Eve gaze with a wonder and tenderness to set the standard for all time. This inspiring expression of love will enrich any space, certain to become a family heirloom. You will delight in its detail and beauty"

The artist, Nathan Green, seems to be doing okay too.

Small town fiction …

… Local Souls - The Barnes & Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Getting it right...

I fear so …

… AttackingtheDemi-Puppets: Corruption of Language and Thought.

Hidden in plain sight …

… Rather Pointless Cultural Projects | Georgy Riecke.

Precious chapbooks …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Embanked in Tiers of Books'.

Many worlds...

What courage looks like …


"We take pure and sacred words and express our feelings with those words," explains 29-year-old Pakisa Arzoo, with an energy as bright as her striking emerald green veil."But I know my society has this belief that writing poetry is a sin."

Frosted Oates …

… Attacking Robert Frost | The American Conservative.

My, my …

… � Dreaming of a non-union Inquirer newsroom JIMROMENESKO.COM. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Literary geography …

… Most Famous Book Set In Every State [MAP] - Business Insider. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Living faith …

… Only God is an Atheist, Part 2. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

O'Connor seems to me to be a genuine candidate for canonization.

Forget about it …

… The Only Thing Worse Than Bad Memories: Playing and Reading Thomas M. Disch’s Amnesia | Hazlitt | Random House of Canada. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today ….

Arguably, no artist grows up: If he sheds the perceptions of childhood, he ceases being an artist.
— Ned Rorem, born on this date in 1923

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tough guys …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, And The Great Anti-Hero.

Mark thy calendar …

… October 27th – Kristina Moriconi and Ray Garman in Fox Chase | Fox Chase Review.

Mark thy calendar …

… October 27th – Kristina Moriconi and Ray Garman in Fox Chase | Fox Chase Review.

In case you wondered …

… Undernews: Why is Obama so indifferent to the NSA scandal?

Well, I sure in hell support this …

… Instapundit — THIS SHOULD PROVE POPULAR: Rand Paul pushes constitutional amendment on Congress.

Indomitable …

… ‘Flo - Portrait of a Street Photographer’ - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Many happy returns …

… A Commonplace Blog: A sapphire anniversary. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Until I started A Commonplace Blog five years ago, I didn’t fully realize how gaunt and unhealthy-looking my prose had become under the influence of academic writing. The blog format proved unexpectedly congenial. I had no inkling, when I blindly began, that blogging would be so liberating. Not only was I freed from begging letters to editors (if I wanted to review a book, I could review it without anyone’s permission). But also I no longer had to worry about what the chairman of the English department referred to as “career logic,” wherein every printed word must contribute to the building of a limited but national reputation.

The Shmoo, too …

… Tom Wolfe on Hipsters, Writing Habits and His Next Book - Fashion Memo Pad - Media - WWD.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More on Today's Failures of Science ...

Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity.

---

The idea that there are a lot of uncorrected flaws in published studies may seem hard to square with the fact that almost all of them will have been through peer-review. This sort of scrutiny by disinterested experts—acting out of a sense of professional obligation, rather than for pay—is often said to make the scientific literature particularly reliable. In practice it is poor at detecting many types of error.

Both are from The Economist

Analytic and Logical yet Intuitive and Artistic.

But not as a result of the left brain/right brain theory.

Stalking the wild bard …

… Dylan Thomas: On the trail of Wales's most turbulent poet - Telegraph. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Sounds true to life …

Joyce Carol Oates skewers Robert Frost as a sexist, racist old bore. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

“Damn you, Fife,” Frost screams near the calamitous conclusion. But she won’t be put off. “Mr. Frost,” she presses on, “is it possible that your audiences have been deceived and that you aren’t a homespun New England bard but something very different? An emissary from dark places? An American poet who sees and defends the very worst in us, without apology – in fact, with a kind of pride?”
Well, that could just be the case. And Frost really was no sweetie pie.

Unforgetting …

… Born to be a Serial Memoirist | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Happy Birthday, Ned …

… Composer Ned Rorem at 90: Still playing.


Though Rorem would seem to be the most cultivated of composers, he is said to have awakened one morning with a horrible hangover while visiting Philadelphia friends, and, to meet a compositional deadline, sat at the piano for 20 minutes, knocked out the song, closed the keyboard lid, and muttered, "Thank goodness that's over."

Every conceivable emotion, but one...

And for that matter, once I reached the end of the Recherche, I immediately reread it. Which is something that happens, I believe, to many readers. InTime Regained, it becomes clear that everything you’ve read up to this point constitutes the inner journey of a man who aspires to become a writer and finally finds his subject, his material: himself and the whole of his life, during which he was convinced that he had lost, or wasted, his time. At that point, you feel the urge to reread the book in order to better understand this inner journey.

About time …

… Charles Dickens statue unveiling date is revealed - Portsmouth News. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Philadelphia, of course, has had a statue of Dickens since 1897.

And something else to listen to …

… Show for Oct. 13, 2013. Richard Rodriguez—Darling:... - The 7th Avenue Project: Thinking Persons' Radio. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Listen in …

… Podcast: Wine, Women, and Novel-Writing | Virtual Memories.

Love and trust …

… Only God is an Atheist, Part 1. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This conviction—that good work must be infused with grace—became her strongest principle. She concedes that she is only the medium for the telling, and prays for a constant realization of that fact: Don’t let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story—just like the typewriter was mine.

Minor works of an unlucky genius …

… Jonathan Coe reviews ‘Plays and Teleplays’ by Flann O’Brien, edited by Daniel Keith Jernigan and ‘The Short Fiction of Flann O’Brien’ edited by Neil Murphy and Keith Hopper � LRB 24 October 2013. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

A simple grateful thought turned heavenwards is the most perfect prayer.
— Doris Lessing, born on this date in 1919

Monday, October 21, 2013

Legacy …

… normblog: Writer's Choice Grand Index.

As noted earlier, Norm Geras passed away on Friday. Above is one of the many things he will be remembered. I felt honored to be asked by him to contribute to the series.

Heavyweight competition …

… Whodunit? Poll seeks to find greatest ever crime novel - Telegraph. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A peculiar chronicle …

… The mess at Philadelphia’s newspapers: A timeline of recent events | Poynter. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Broken pigeonhole...

Images

Hannah Price’s series, City of Brotherly Love, features portraits of men in Philadelphia captured just moments after they harassed her on the street.

Unclaimed Baggage

Local Writers Group releasing its first story collection.
Full Disclosure:  I am a member, having joined after my very first meeting.  A good, thoughtful and nice group of people.  And having never been in a writers group, or at a writers group meeting, I was surprised how energizing it was!

Very sad news …

… normblog: Norman Geras: 1943-2013.

Psst …

… Conspiracies: Five things they don’t want you to know - Ideas - The Boston Globe. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

First Known When Lost: Fountain

… First Known When Lost: Fountain.

The beginning of "The Bush" immediately brings to mind lines from Thomas's "The Bright Field":  ". . . It is the turning/aside like Moses to the miracle/of the lit bush, to a brightness/that seemed as transitory as your youth/once, but is the eternity that awaits you."
What wondrous lines those are.

Down on Poe …

… Edgar Allan Poe's shockingly unsensational storytelling | Books | theguardian.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I haven't read much Poe since I was in high school, but I remember liking the stories — and I think I read them in one big gulp. The writer of this piece apparently thinks Poe was an opium addict. I thought that had long since been debunked.

Without honor at home …

… John Williams's 'Stoner': The Greatest American Novel You've Never Heard Of : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Reliability check …

Unreliable research: Trouble at the lab | The Economist.

Academic scientists readily acknowledge that they often get things wrong. But they also hold fast to the idea that these errors get corrected over time as other scientists try to take the work further. Evidence that many more dodgy results are published than are subsequently corrected or withdrawn calls that much-vaunted capacity for self-correction into question. There are errors in a lot more of the scientific papers being published, written about and acted on than anyone would normally suppose, or like to think.
Scientists are people. And being smart and highly trained does not make one immune to human failings.

Hmm …

… Which Jesus Do You Believe In? � The Dish. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think I agree with this, but is reluct at the use of the term believe, because I think it has come to mean something different from faith.

Philosophers. Thinkers. And inconsistency …

… Maverick Philosopher: Camille Paglia on Philosophy and Women in Philosophy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …


If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awake — Aye, what then?
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge, born on this date in 1772

Sunday, October 20, 2013

For the sabbath …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: Dust in the Wind: Issa's Sunday Service, #181.

Things to do …

… Peculiar Professions: Forks in the Career Path.

Oh Lord, can't we keep religion out of politics? | Teresa Wiltz | Comment is free | theguardian.com

Oh Lord, can't we keep religion out of politics? | Teresa Wiltz | Comment is free | theguardian.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The deck for this piece says that "America's founders insisted on church-state separation." Only they didn't. Here is all the Constitution has to day on the matter: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …" What the federal government was being prohibited from doing was establishing a national church on the order of the Church of England. The reason behind that was that several states already had established churches of their own. Massachusetts did not disestablish Congregationalism until 1834.
Ms Wiltz notes toward that "when he was president, Thomas Jefferson, a fervent theist, told a group of Baptist ministers government had no business meddling in religion. Moreover, he said, there needed to be a "wall of separation between church and state."
That was Tom's opinion. It was opinion that, if shared by the founders — which is highly unlikely — was at not incorporated into the Constitution.
Today at Mass I was treated, along with the rest of the congregation, to a pinch of politics from the pulpit. I did not find it edifying. But I will have more to say about that later.

And the winner is …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Brit Crime Writers To Vote On Greatest Crime Novel.

Good to know...

...An agnostic defends religion
I was seated with the choir in the loft, and with each hymn we sang and each prayer spoken by the faithful around me – the delivery didn't feel so rote this time – I began to feel a greater attachment to the meaning religious practice held for many around me, and to being present for a ritual that gave that meaning palpable form, even to a nonbeliever. When the time came to take communion, I felt a strong desire to do so, yet I did not. After this, my lack of faith was not shaken, but my tendency to dismiss transcendent spiritual experiences as irrational, or religion as oppressive, was.

The freedom of a garden...

Clarity of word and thought …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Amuse the Harsh Centurion'.

Inquirer reviews …

… Looking back at JFK and wondering, 'What if . . . '

… An earnest, innocent tale of addictions' demons.

2013 Online Journalism Awards

Guardian, Boston Globe, AxisPhilly, Texas Tribune take home 2013 Online Journalism Awards


Language without numbers=People without numbers?

Among Pirahã's many peculiarities is an almost complete lack of numeracy, an extremely rare linguistic trait of which there are only a few documented cases.

Lamentable distinction …

… Remember Liu Xiaobo – the only Nobel Peace Prize winner in prison - Reporters Without Borders. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Q&A and more …

… THE TORONTO QUARTERLY: Hélène Cardona - Dreaming My Animal Selves (an interview). (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A healing hunger …

… Art As Means Of Religious Conversion | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

How melancholy a thing is success.
— Sir Richard Francis Burton, who died on this date in 1890

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Talking and thinking …

… A Whining Pretension to Goodness - Taki's Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Anglomob …

… Bryan Appleyard — Gangsters for Tea. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

From snark to grump …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Eminent Hipsters: A Book Of Essays By Steely Dan's Grumpy Old Man, Donald Fagen

Best left unsaid …

… language goes on holiday. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Remembering …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Happy 82nd Birthday To John Le Carre.

For those who like this sort of thing …

… this is the sort of thing they like: The 5 Most Elegiac Lines in Claudia Roth Pierpont's Elegy to Philip Ro | New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Dorabella Cipher

It was the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, 1897. Through a periscope, England was sailing along in all its hope and glory. That summer Edward Elgar turned 40 and was slowly emerging as the country’s greatest composer.
...
On July 14, following a visit the previous weekend to some family friends, the Reverend and Mrs. Alfred Penny, Elgar spun off what looked like a drawing or scribble and gave it to his wife, Alice, to attach to a thank-you note. It was intended for Dora Penny, a 23-year-old ardent admirer, who sang in a local choral group and liked to dance.
...
The scribble, known as the Dorabella Cipher, has never been decrypted and stands with such other famous unsolved puzzles as the Voynich Manuscript, a 240-page codex dating from the 15th century; the Phaistos Disk, an apparently Bronze-age piece of clay found in Crete in 1908; and the Zodiac Killer ciphers of the 1960s and ’70s.

Scacity v. Abundance Publishing - the World is Changing?

Traditional publishing, like network television, is built on scarcity.  In traditional publishing, “airtime” was shelf space...

Because the shelf space is limited, traditional publishers only kept books with a fantastic sales record in print. The other books had a short shelf life before they were taken out of the stores and eventually out of print.
Everyone currently working in traditional publishing, from the publishers to the editors to the writers, learned the scarcity attitude. Everyone. That includes me. That includes any unpublished writer who tried to break in before 18 months ago. That includes agents. That includes book reviewers, copy editors, book editors, and the publishing executives.

Our attitudes got formed in a model based on limited shelf space and expensive production costs. On “gut” decisions instead of quantifiable decisions.
...
The very idea of abundance is confusing. How, everyone raised in scarcity wants to know, does anyone find anything? How can something become “big”?

People who come at publishing from the new world of publishing—always-available titles, e-books that might stay in print forever—understand the long tail. They understand that something may not be a hit when it first appears, but word of mouth (or an abundance of page views) will lead to a wider audience. That wider audience will then bring its friends and family to the table, introducing yet another new group of people to the item.